Climate change will cost Germany up to $960 billion by 2050, study finds | News on the climate crisis

Report published during a discussion on how Berlin could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in difficult sectors such as transport.

Climate change could cost Germany up to 900 billion euros ($960 billion) in cumulative economic damage by mid-century, a new study finds, as Europe’s largest economy seeks ways to reduce this bill.

Analysis by economic research firm Prognos, the Institute for Economic Structure Research and the Institute for Ecological Economic Research was released on Monday as Berlin works on a soon-to-be-presented climate adaptation strategy by the Ministry of the Environment.

Germany’s economy and environment ministries cited the study as showing that extreme heat, drought and flooding could cost 280 billion euros ($300 billion) to 900 billion euros between 2022 and 2050, depending on the extent of global warming.

A climate change activist hangs from a bridge during a protest against the German government's traffic policy, on the A648 motorway in Frankfurt, Germany
A climate activist hangs from a bridge during a protest against the German government’s traffic policy in Frankfurt [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

Costs include reduced agricultural yields, damage or destruction of buildings and infrastructure due to heavy rains and floods, degraded transport of goods, and impacts on the health system.

The scenarios are not exact predictions because some impacts of climate change, such as reduced quality of life, are difficult to quantify economically.

“The costs of climate change could turn out to be much higher than those determined by the model scenarios,” the study says.

Climate change and extreme weather have already cost Germany at least 145 billion euros ($155 billion) from 2000 to 2021, including 80 billion euros ($85 billion) in the past five years alone, including the 2021 floods in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, the economy ministry said.

Expected damage costs could be completely reduced through climate adaptation measures, such as carbon storage, if climate change were only moderate, according to the study, adding that about 60-80% of Costs could be avoided through such measures, depending on how strongly the climate would change.

The report did not mention how much climate adaptation measures could cost federal and state governments.

Environmentalists say Germany’s climate policy has taken a back seat as Europe grapples with an energy crisis, caused in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For many European countries, including Germany, the crisis is forcing a return to dirtier fuels, such as coal.

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